Loopholes in security, low surveillance fuel malpractices

Incidents of patients and bystanders at the Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Kozhikode, falling prey to various financial frauds are on the rise. No fewer than five cases were recently reported from the MCH where anonymous persons appeared as hospital agents and collected money from patients, promising them fast delivery of various services.

Such malpractices thrive because of the loopholes in the existing security measures and the declining surveillance on the hospital campus.

Though security staff often insist on production of identity cards or OP tickets for entry and exit from the MCH, many a time it does not work as a majority of the fraudsters enter the hospital pretending to be patients or after collecting OP tickets from other patients with a promise to help them.

A staff member at the MCH says that mostly senior citizens and women are the victims of such tricksters. In many cases, they appear as ‘confidential agents’ of the hospital staff and offer support to easily complete various medical tests such as scanning or echocardiogram, bypassing the priority list.

Some of the recent incidents show that most people are trapped in their hurry to complete various tests such as echocardiogram and TMT (treadmill test). The agents make their entry with the promise that the priority list can be altered and a faster appointment may be secured if some additional payment is made through them. They also try to interact with the hospital staff to win the confidence of the patient. After collecting the amount, they deftly flee the spot, leaving the patients in a fix.

According to hospital sources, educated persons and even retired government employees are cheated. Strangely, many such agents meet the patients with an ‘identity card’ and often display only its tag. On seeing the tag, people get the impression that they are MCH employees. “A major portion of the trickery now takes place in the super specialty block, where the entry of patients is not much restricted. Anyone can enter the hospital in the guise of a patient,” says an employee. He also reveals that there were occasions when the fraudsters were caught with the OP tickets of other patients.

Police officials of the medical college station say the hospital premises is a point of attraction for fraudsters as there will be a lot of newcomers each day, who are unfamiliar with the location and people. “It is this ignorance that helps the gangs thrive in the location. Many a time, even those convicted resume the job as people are so prone to falling in their net,” they say.

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